Growing District Upgrades Technology

August 15, 2019 by Elizabeth Davidson

Growing District Upgrades Technology

Sometimes during our travels, we are reminded how quickly a district’s needs can change. Two districts may combine into one and require new routes to be designed, while another district may change its school start times, emphasizing the need for better communication tools to reach parents and students. Weston Bartlett, transportation director for Melissa Independent School District in Texas, recently told us how rapid growth in his district underscored the need for a significant technology update.

Thinking back to when he was promoted to his current role at the district, Weston recalled, “When I took over, we were able to manage the old-school way with Excel, Google Maps, and clear communication, but it wasn’t sustainable and didn’t serve our parents and students the way I wanted. I’m a football coach, and I wanted to put my team in the best position to win. Excel sheets didn’t do that.”

In addition to organizing the transportation department’s day-to-day operations with several disparate systems, Weston was facing another challenge: “We’re a high-growth district. We’ve almost doubled in four years and will double again, so soon we’ll service almost 7,000 kids.” Realizing the responsibility of safely and efficiently transporting that number of students, Weston knew something had to change.

He began researching to find a single, comprehensive solution to address the increasing number of students who would need to be transported. It quickly became clear that the Tyler Drive on-board tablet would meet the current and future needs of the growing district. This tool provides turn-by-turn audio and visual navigation and allows students to swipe on and off their bus with an ID card so drivers, transportation staff, and parents always know where a student is in real time. “When I saw Traversa and Tyler Drive, I said, ‘This is where I need to be. I need to be prepared for worst-case scenarios.’ When I see people not use it, I think, ‘How is this not the standard?’ Route sheets cannot be the answer in 2019. How is that still how we do this? I’m proud to be at the tip of the spear, and I think our community deserves that,” he said.

As Weston becomes responsible for overseeing more students each year, Tyler Drive is already making the district safer and more responsive in tangible ways. He remembered, “We had a parent call and say that their student is missing. In the past, I would have had to pull video and look around and figure it out. And I was able to pull it right away and say, ‘He got off at home at 4:07’. The police can’t have delays; they need me to be able to do that. He was fine. He was at a friend’s house, but in that worst-case scenario, that could have made all the difference.”

Learn more about how Melissa ISD and other districts are seeing real-world results in this recorded presentation: How We Succeed with Tyler Drive

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